Posts tagged with "The Washington Post"

Mar-a-Lago workers moved boxes of papers before the FBI arrived

May 29, 2023

Two employees at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club moved boxes of papers around the property a day before FBI agents and a federal prosecutor arrived at the premises in an effort to recover classified documents, reports HuffPost.

The Washington Post first reported that a maintenance employee at the Florida club told federal prosecutors he saw Trump’s valet, Walt Nauta, moving the boxes on June 2, 2022, into a storage area before he offered to help without knowing what the boxes contained. That same day, a lawyer for Trump contacted the Justice Department and said DOJ officials could come to Mar-a-Lago to pick up classified files, people familiar with the investigation told the newspaper.

Jay Bratt, a top prosecutor for the Justice Department, traveled to Mar-a-Lago on June 3 and was handed a batch of classified files and a signed letter attesting that a search had been carried out for any other such material but that none had been found, The New York Times added.

But two months later, on August 8, the FBI executed a search warrant on the property amid concerns that sensitive documents remained at the Trump estate and seized more than 100 other classified files in a storage area and in Trump’s office.

The revelation adds new context to Trump’s behavior surrounding the classified files and potentially broadens the timeline for any potential criminality and obstruction. The Post added that prosecutors have also gathered evidence that Trump’s team had conducted a “dress rehearsal” for moving files he wanted to keep.

The latest reports come at a pivotal time in the investigation. The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, May 23, that Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith is nearly finished collecting testimony and evidence after speaking with top aides to the former president and maids and maintenance staff at the Florida estate, which serves as Trump’s residence and is also a private club.

And the Post reported last month that federal investigators have gathered evidence Trump may have sifted through boxes of documents after receiving a subpoena to return them.

Trump’s lawyers also wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland this week, requesting a meeting to discuss the probe—claiming it was an “ongoing injustice” centered on baseless claims.

Prosecutors have reportedly homed in on whether Trump attempted to obstruct the government’s efforts to recover the files. The saga went on for months after the National Archives attempted to recover documents missing from his White House tenure, and the Justice Department eventually sent agents to Florida with a subpoena to recover the files. The recovery culminated in the bombastic FBI search on August 8.

Some in Trump’s orbit have reportedly been preparing for an indictment, which could present serious legal peril for the former president. He lambasted the ongoing probe during a CNN town hall-style event earlier this month; but also appeared to claim he was allowed to take anything he wanted when he left the White House in January 2021.

“I took the documents; I’m allowed to,” he said during the live event. He later added that when he left Washington he had “boxes lined up on the sidewalk.”

“Everybody knew we were taking those boxes,” Trump said.

Several other investigations into his behavior after his loss of the 2020 election are ongoing, including his effort to overturn the presidential election results in Georgia.

Research contact: @HuffPost

D.C. police officer arrested, accused of leaking info to Proud Boys leader

May 22, 2023

A Washington, D.C., police lieutenant was arrested on Friday, May 19, after he was accused of telling the leader of the far-right Proud Boys, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, that he would be arrested for his actions before, during, and after the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack, reports The Washington Post.

Shane Lamond, a 24-year veteran of the D.C. police and then the department’s head of Intelligence, was indicted on one count of obstruction of justice and three counts of making false statements—and was scheduled to be arraigned later Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, prosecutors said.

Lamond, 47, of Stafford, Virginia, was in touch with Tarrio, who was arrested on January 4, 2021, for his part in burning a Black Lives Matter flag stolen from an historic African American church weeks earlier. Tarrio and three other Proud Boys leaders were convicted of seditious conspiracy in the Capitol riot earlier this month.

In his trial, Tarrio’s defense argued that his communications with Lamond showed the Proud Boys did not conspire to commit violence and that the group had shared its plans with law enforcement.

But Tarrio’s prosecutors and Friday’s indictment cited other messages showing how much Lamond was sharing with Tarrio during the weeks leading up to the attack. Prosecutors alleged in Tarrio’s trial that Proud Boys’ anger at police deepened when they received advance word that Tarrio would be arrested in Washington and that it contributed to their planning for violence in opposing federal authority—a key element of their convictions.

Lamond, who was suspended with pay from the D.C. police a year ago, could not immediately be reached for comment.

His attorney, Mark E. Schamel, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the indictment. Schamel has described his client’s contacts with Tarrio as professional and part of his work to obtain intelligence and prevent clashes between the Proud Boys and other groups. Lamond’s wife had posted on social media that her husband was being criticized for doing his job.

In a statement in February, Schamel said his client did nothing to aid January 6 rioters and “was only communicating with these individuals because the mission required it.” He added that Lamond “was instrumental” to Tarrio’s arrest and that “there is no legitimate law enforcement officer who is familiar with the facts of this case who would opine otherwise.”

The indictment is a black mark against the D.C. police department, which has otherwise been lauded for rescuing the understaffed and unprepared Capitol Police force during the siege. D.C. officers—many in riot gear and many of whom were injured—became the face of the fight to defend the Capitol and lawmakers from the mob.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Representative George Santos is charged with 13 counts of fraud, financial crimes

May 11, 2023

Representative George Santos, the freshman Republican congressman serving New York whose myriad falsehoods became both a scandal and a national punchline, has been charged with a host of financial crimes in court papers unsealed on Wednesday, May 10, reports The Washington Post.

Santos, 34, surrendered to federal authorities and was expected to appear in a federal courthouse in Central Islip, on Long Island, later on Wednesday. The congressman and his lawyer did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Santos stands accused of deceiving prospective donors to his campaign and defrauding the state of New York, as well as making false statements to the House Committee on Ethics. He faces seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of lying to the House of Representatives on financial forms.

Details of his dealings with would-be donors and false statements on his ethics disclosures had been revealed in earlier reporting. But the indictment includes previously unknown accusations about a scheme to unlawfully obtain unemployment benefits.

According to prosecutors, Santos falsely claimed to have been unemployed in the summer of 2020 when he applied for benefits through the New York State Department of Labor; and continued to falsely certify his unemployment through the following spring, receiving more than $24,000 from the state. During that time, he was employed as a regional director for a Florida investment firm. That firm goes unnamed in the indictment, but its details match those of a company called Harbor City Capital, which was forced to shut down in 2021 after the Securities and Exchange Commission called it a “classic Ponzi scheme.”

“Taken together, the allegations in the indictment (document attached) charge Santos with relying on repeated dishonesty and deception to ascend to the halls of Congress and enrich himself,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement. “He used political contributions to line his pockets, unlawfully applied for unemployment benefits that should have gone to New Yorkers who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and lied to the House of Representatives.”

The federal allegations mark the latest chapter in a saga that has put Santos under a bright spotlight in Washington and beyond. The lies he told voters in a district stretching from parts of Long Island to Queens in New York largely escaped national attention until after his November victory. Once they were revealed on a broad scale, Santos, who flipped a seat previously held by a Democrat, apologized for what he called “résumé embellishment.”

But some of the scrutiny has been aimed at more serious potential wrongdoing—including allegedly misrepresenting his campaign’s finances and deceiving people for his financial gain.

According to the indictment, Santos used tens of thousands of dollars that ostensibly was raised for his 2022 congressional race to pay for designer clothes, pay off debts, and give money to associates. The indictment adds significantly to understanding of an alleged scheme to defraud would-be donors to Santos’ congressional campaign — an effort that prosecutors say Santos directed in violation of federal campaign finance law.

He is accused of soliciting funds, personally and through his campaign treasurer, to a company that he falsely represented both as a social welfare organization and a super PAC supporting his bid for federal office. In fact, prosecutors claim, funds from the company ultimately went to bank accounts controlled by Santos.

Santos is also charged with lying on congressional financial disclosure forms when he claimed that he earned $750,000 in salary from a firm he owned, had received between $1 million and $5 million in dividends from that firm, and had a checking account with a balance of more than $100,000 and a savings account with a balance of more than $1 million. None of those things were true, authorities said.

Wide-ranging complaints filed by watchdog groups with the Federal Election Commission earlier this year accused Santos of misrepresenting campaign spending and using campaign resources to cover personal expenses, among other allegations.

In January, the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section asked the FEC to hold off on any enforcement action against Santos—suggesting that prosecutors were examining overlapping issues.

The congressman has also come under fire for allegedly pocketing $3,000 from a GoFundMe page he purportedly set up for a homeless veteran to help pay for surgery for the man’s dying service dog—allegations that are not part of the indictment.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Democrat Colin Allred to challenge Republican Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate seat

May 8, 2023

Democratic Representative Colin Allred (32nd District-Texas) announced on Wednesday, May 3, that he will challenge two-term Republican Senator Ted Cruz for his U.S. Senate seat in 2024, reports The Washington Post.

In a video posted to social media, Allred showed footage from the January 6, 2021, insurrection, in which a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters overran the U.S. Capitol seeking to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral win.

On that day, Allred said in the video, he heard glass breaking and texted his wife to say, “Whatever happens, I love you,” then took off his jacket and “got ready to take on anyone who came through that door.” 

He slammed Cruz for voting against the certification of election results that day and for hiding in a storage closet during the attack.

“But that’s Ted for you: All hat, no cattle,” Allred said in the video.

Allred, a lawyer and former professional football player who was a linebacker for the Tennessee Titans, was first elected to Congress in 2018, defeating Republican incumbent Pete Sessions in an upset. In November, Allred won re-election to his third House term by more than 30 percentage points. He represents a portion of the Dallas area.

“Some people say a Democrat can’t win in Texas. Well, someone like me was never supposed to get this far,” Allred said in the video; recounting his childhood in Texas where he was raised by a single mother and never knew his father.

Because of that, Allred said, he became the first member of Congress to publicly take paid paternity leave in 2019. He took paternity leave again in 2021 after the birth of his second son, and has been a vocal proponent of national paid family leave.

“Being there for your partner and newborn during this critical period leads to better outcomes for kids, dads and their partners, and men taking paternity leave promotes equality for working moms,” Allred said in 2021.

Allred, 40, is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and serves on the House transportation and foreign affairs committees, as well as the newly formed GOP-led select committee on “the weaponization of the federal government.”

Cruz, 52, was first elected to the Senate in 2012. He won reelection in 2018 by fewer than 3 percentage points—fending off a challenge from Democrat Beto O’Rourke. Cruz also ran for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, ultimately suspending his campaign after losing the Indiana primary and later endorsing his primary rival, Trump.

While in office, Cruz has cheered the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, voted against a bill to protect same-sex and interracial marriages, voted against gun-control legislation, and argued for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

In a statement, Cruz campaign spokesman Nick Maddux said the Texas senator had been a “tireless champion” for the Lone Star State who would continue to support the oil and gas industries. The statement also knocked Allred for voting in line with Nancy Pelosi (D-California), the former House speaker, and for being “too extreme” for Texas.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Trump is likely to sit out one or both of first two GOP debates

May 4, 2023

In private comments to aides and confidants, former President Donald Trump has indicated he does not want to breathe life into his Republican challengers by sharing a debate stage with them, reports The New York Times.

Trump is likely to skip at least one of the first two debates of the 2024 Republican presidential nominating contest, according to five people who have discussed the matter with the former president.

Last month, the chairperson of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, announced that Fox News would host the first G.O.P. primary debate in Milwaukee in August. The second debate will be held in Southern California at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

While the former president maintains warm relationships with several prime-time hosts—especially Sean Hannity, a reliable Trump booster—Trump’s overall relationship with Rupert Murdoch’s television network has deteriorated as the network showered DeSantis with praise over the past two years while constricting its coverage of Trump.

Trump also has mentioned his previous skirmish with the former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly in his private conversations with associates as a reason not to agree to a debate hosted by the network.

In the first Republican debate of the 2016 campaign cycle, Kelly asked Trump about demeaning things he’d said about women. Trump viewed this as a declaration of war from Fox News’ management. He later attacked Kelly in crude and sexist terms.

What’s more, Trump has led his nearest rival, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, by around 30 percentage points in recent polls. All other contenders are polling in single digits.

“I’m up by too many points,” one associate who spoke with Trump recalled him saying.

One adviser stressed that the situation was fluid, particularly given how early it remains in the 2024 race and with DeSantis not yet even a declared candidate. Trump may find it hard to stay away from a stage where others are criticizing him, and some senior Republicans expect that he will ultimately join the debates. He has long credited the debates in the 2016 campaign, both in the primary and the general election, for his victories.

Still, if Trump opts out of some primary campaign debates—as he did once before in 2016—he will shrink the viewing audience and limit his rivals’ chances to seize a breakout moment on the debate stage. The visibility such moments offer is hard to come by in a race in which Trump almost monopolizes the news media’s attention.

For Trump, denying his low-polling rivals access to a massive television audience is part of his calculations in potentially skipping the debates, according to the people who have discussed the matter with him. In 2015, Fox News drew an audience of 24 million for the first primary debate of the 2016 campaign. It was, at the time, the biggest viewership for a non-sports event in cable television history.

“In his mind there’s not enough candidates who are polling close enough to him,” said a person familiar with Trump’s thinking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations with the former president. “And that, if he does a debate this early with candidates who are polling in the single digits, there’s no upside for him.”

Another motivation for Trump is revenge: The former president has a history with the two institutions hosting the first two Republican candidate debates.

Trump has told advisers that the second debate is a nonstarter for him because it will be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The chairman of the library’s board of trustees, Frederick J. Ryan Jr., also serves as the publisher and chief executive officer of The Washington Post, a fact that Trump regularly brings up.

Trump is also sour that the Reagan library has invited numerous other leading Republicans to speak at its events over the past two years, including his presidential rival DeSantis—but has never extended an invitation to him, according to two people familiar with his thinking.

Research contact: @nytimes

Tiny dolls appear in a couple’s mailbox with a message, ‘We’ve decided to live here’

May 3, 2023

Don Powell of Orchard Lake Village, Michigan, was sliding the usual assortment of envelopes out of the mailbox in front of of his home when he noticed something out of the ordinary, reports The Washington Post.

A tiny doll couple was sitting on a love seat inside the mailbox. A small sticky note was also tucked inside. “We’ve decided to live here,” the message read. It was signed, “From Mary and Shelley.”

Powell, 72, said he initially figured that somebody must have left the wooden dolls inside his mailbox last August by mistake. He and his wife, Nancy Powell, had a custom-designed mailbox installed about four years ago to resemble their contemporary white house.

“We could understand why dolls would want to move into such a nice mailbox, but we were still perplexed,” Don Powell said, adding that he laughed when he took a closer look at Mary and Shelley because “as dolls go, they are extremely unattractive.”

Powell said he considered tossing the couple and their sofa into the trash can, but then he had second thoughts. “I asked the neighbors whether anybody had left dolls in their mailboxes, and everyone told me no,” he said. “So I thought, ‘This must just be a joke, and whoever left them here will come back to get them.’ I moved them to the back of the mailbox to see what would happen.”

A few days passed and nobody retrieved the dolls, he said, noting that he and his wife soon discovered that the small couple had acquired an end table, a throw rug and a pillow.

“I also have a sense of humor, so I left a note of my own, saying that what the home really needed was a refrigerator stocked with food,” he said.

Above, a few days after Mary and Shelley showed up inside Don and Nancy Powell’s mailbox, somebody gave them a rug, a table, and a pillow. (Photo source: Don Powell)

The fridge was never delivered. But over the next several months, additional items mysteriously sho

wed up: a four-poster bed, a painting and a wood-burning stove, to name a few.

More than eight months later, Mary and Shelley are still living rent-free in the mailbox, to the delight of neighbors who now follow updates by Don Powell on Orchard Lake Village’s Nextdoor page.

Powell first posted about the tiny squatters on August 21, hoping that someone might help solve the mystery about why the dolls had suddenly appeared inside the mailbox, 30 yards from his front porch.

“A homeless couple has taken up residence inside our mailbox,” he wrote on Nextdoor. “I have included photos of what it all looks like, so you don’t think I’m making any of this up.”

“Some people initially thought that I had planted the dolls myself, but that is definitely not the case,” Powell said. “All I did was provide a mailbox. Somebody else decided to make it into a home for Mary and Shelley.”

Nancy Powell said she can vouch for her husband. “Our two sons even wondered if he was doing it, but it was honestly a surprise to us,” she said. “Don is the kind of person, though, to play along with it. It’s some ‘feel good’ fun that we all need now in this crazy world.”

Although a person can be fined up to $5,000 for putting items without postage inside somebody else’s mailbox, Powell said he could not imagine alerting the authorities and evicting the dolls.

“I asked our mail carrier if there would be a problem delivering our mail with the dolls in there, and he told me no—there was plenty of room,” he said. “He also said he got a kick out of seeing what was going on inside my mailbox.”

“People in the neighborhood are enjoying it and stop by sometimes to ask questions,” he said. “They want to know what we’re charging for rent and who mows the lawn. Some people ask if I’ve thought about installing an outdoor camera, but personally, I like the mystery of it.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Who is Zooey Zephyr, the transgender lawmaker banned from her own House in Montana?

April 28, 2023

State Representative Zooey Zephyr became a lawmaker to make a difference, she said. Specifically, she wanted to stop House legislators in Montana from passing anti-LGBTQ bills, reports The Washington Post.

Now, the Montana legislature has voted to discipline her for her conduct on the floor of the House earlier this week. Republicans banned her from the actual House —she can only attend sessions remotely until this legislative session concludes next week.

House leadership and Zephyr have been locked in a battle since April 18, when Zephyr made a fervent plea to her GOP colleagues to reject a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender children in Montana. Republicans, who passed the bill and sent it to Republican Governor Greg Gianforte to sign, protested, saying the words Zephyr chose were “hateful.”

Since then, House leaders have not allowed Zephyr to speak in the chamber, which led to protests there on Monday, April 24.

The bill under debate, Senate Bill 99, titled the Youth Health Protection Act by its Republican sponsors, would ban several kinds of gender-affirming care for transgender children, including puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgery needed to treat minors diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

The bill also would threaten gender-affirming care providers with a year-long suspension and potential legal liability. It would prohibit the state’s Medicaid program from paying for any surgical procedures or medication needed for gender-affirming care for transgender children. The state health department said earlier this year that Montana’s Medicaid program had spent nearly $1.4 million since 2015 to cover medication treatment for gender dysphoria for children, averaging about $173,000 a year, according to the Associated Press.

 Zephyr, 34, was elected in 2022—making her the first openly transgender person to be elected to the state legislature in Montana. She has said she wanted to become a lawmaker in 2021 when the Montana legislature passed three bills that restricted LGBTQ rights in one week.

 One of the bills prevented transgender people from updating their birth certificates without undergoing gender-affirming surgery. It passed narrowly (26-24).

She told The Washington Post earlier this year that she remembers thinking that if she had been in the room when the bill passed, “I could have changed that heart. I could have been the difference there.”

That was the day she tweeted that she would be running for office.

Before she was elected, Zephyr managed the curriculum and program review process at the University of Montana. The lawmaker also teaches the Lindy Hop, a swing-era dance, in Missoula. She used to play on intramural soccer teams at the university.

Zephyr told the Post that the legislation in Montana did not reflect her own experience in Missoula, where she has been embraced by her community.

“[Missoula] took care of me when I was going through my transition,” she said. “The sense of community here is magical.”

If the governor signs Senate Bill 99 into law, it would take effect on October 1.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Trump team prepares to fight efforts to block him from 2024 primary ballots over January 6 attack

April 19, 2023

Donald Trump’s campaign team is preparing for a state-by-state legal battle later this year over untested claims that a Civil War-era clause in the U.S. Constitution bars the former president from appearing on Republican primary ballots because of his role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection, reports The Washington Post.

Two nonprofit groups who do not disclose all their donors—Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and Free Speech For Peoplehave prepared multipronged legal strategies to challenge Trump across the country under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. They have written letters to state election officials, calling on them to block Trump from the ballot; while separately preparing voter lawsuits and state election board complaints.

Section 3—ratified in 1868 to punish Confederate officials after the war—disqualifies any “officer of the United States” from future public office who, after taking an oath to support the U.S. Constitution, has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the country. Attorneys at both groups argue that Trump’s role before and during the January  6 riot is evidence he “engaged in insurrection”—a claim that was specifically endorsed by the House select committee that investigated the attack.

“It is a strategy designed to enforce the Constitution to bar Trump from serving as president,” CREW Chief Counsel Donald Sherman said of the legal efforts. “We have had two major insurrections in this country. One was the Civil War, which gave rise to Section 3. And one was January 6.”

But there is little recent legal precedent to guide courts on how to apply Section 3. Opponents of the effort are likely to argue that state elections officials have a ministerial role that does not allow them to bar candidates under the constitution. They will likely also argue that Trump did not engage in an “insurrection”—that Section 3 should not apply to a candidate before an election and that there needs to be an act of Congress to enforce Section 3. Legal scholars have also raised questions about whether a former president who has never served in another office counts as an “officer” under the clause.

“What these undemocratic organizations are doing is blatant election interference and tampering,” Trump campaign spokeperson Steven Cheung said in a statement. “They are not even trying to hide it anymore and it is sad they want to deprive the American people of choosing Donald Trump—the overwhelming front-runner by far—as their president. History will not judge them kindly.”

Opponents also warn of the damage judges or election officials would do to the electoral process if they intervene to deny Republican voters the option of choosing Trump after much of the campaign season has passed. The Section 3 challenges cannot be filed until Trump applies for or is granted ballot access late this year, attorneys say, giving the courts just a matter of months to decide on the merits of the claim before votes are cast in the nomination fight.

“The practical implications of this is the greatest disruption of our electoral system that has been contemplated since the Civil War,” said James Bopp, a conservative attorney who represented two members of Congress last year whose ballot access was unsuccessfully challenged under Section 3. “On a practical level, this is so cynical and would be so destructive, it is actually in my view beyond comprehension.”

Finally, lawyers on both sides of the issue say if a judge ruled that Section 3 applies in any state, the case would likely be immediately appealed to federal court and potentially fast-tracked to the Supreme Court for review.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Tennessee House expels two Democrats in historic act of partisan retaliation

April 10, 2023

The Republican-led Tennessee House voted on Thursday, April 6, to expel two Black Democratic lawmakers who halted proceedings last week to join protesters in the gallery demanding gun-control legislation after a mass killing.

They did not expel a Caucasian lawmaker, Representative Gloria Johnson (D), who had done the same thing, reports The Washington Post.

In a historic act of partisan retaliation, the chamber voted 72-25 to oust Representative Justin Jones (D), a 27-year-old community organizer elected in November to represent part of Nashville, and 69-26 to expel Representative Justin Pearson (D) of Memphis. Republicans did not have enough votes to remove Johnson, a former teacher from Knoxville who lost a student to gun violence.

After a shooter opened fire at the Covenant School in Nashville on March 27, killing three nine-year-olds and three adults, activists descended on the Tennessee Capitol and demanded that lawmakers pass gun-control legislation. Republicans, who have supermajorities in both chambers, refused to do so. The three lawmakers — dubbed the Tennessee Three—said they joined the protests inside the legislative chamber to speak out for Tennesseans whose voices have been ignored.

The unprecedented effort in response to remove them from office stunned many and marked an escalation in partisan rancor dominating some statehouses. In some cases, Republican-led legislatures have taken steps to marginalize Democrats, particularly over gun control and social issues.

“I recognize that it’s not just about expelling me, but it’s about expelling the people,” Jones said before the vote. “But your action will do the exact opposite. It will galvanize them to see what is happening in the state requires sustained action.”

After the vote that allowed Johnson to remain in the House, reporters asked why she thought she was spared after Jones was ousted. Johnson, who is White, responded: “It might have to do with the color of our skin.” Jones is of Black and Filipino descent, and Pearson is Black.

The three lawmakers did not immediately respond to messages from The Washington Post seeking comment after the votes. Biographical information for Jones and Pearson was immediately removed from the House website, and their seats were listed as “vacant.”

County and city-level officials will select replacements to serve until the next regularly scheduled election in August 2024, said Carrie Russell, a political science senior lecturer at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University. The expelled lawmakers will be able to run for reelection at that time, she said.

Bob Mendes, an at-large member of the Nashville Metropolitan Council, tweeted Thursday night that a meeting has been set for Monday to fill Jones’s seat. “I will vote to name Justin Jones back into the State House to represent my constituents,” Mendes tweeted.

The Tennessee House had only expelled members three times previously, according to a report from the office of the state’s attorney general. In 1866, six members were expelled “for the contempt of the authority of this House.” In 1980, a member was expelled for seeking a bribe in exchange for tanking a piece of legislation. And in 2016, a representative was expelled amid state and federal investigations of sexual misconduct.

“The world is watching Tennessee,” Jones said. “What is happening here today is a farce of democracy. What’s happening here today is a situation in which the jury has already publicly announced the verdict.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost